Copenhagen left me puzzled, not by the lack of agreements from the parties involved, but by my own ambivalence towards the whole thing. After all, I am supposed to be an environmentalist, I should have been avidly following all the reports, debating the successes (if there had been any) and failures. In truth, I paid no attention to it, yes, I read some of the pre-meeting reporting, added a tck tck tck ribbon to my Twitter image, agreed that time was running out and we needed an international resolution, but I didn’t actually think that anything would happen there.
In the meantime I have just finished reading a book (Why We Disagree About Climate Change) which has helped me to clarify my thoughts about Copenhagen. The basis of the book is that everyone has different priorities in life, and perceive the risk of Climate Change differently depending on their circumstances, nothing that is not obvious there. However, one of the later chapters talks about how the idea of an all encompassing agreement at Copenhagen was flawed and was never going to happen. Climate Change has now been altered from a physical manifestation into something more, it is linked to world poverty, economic development and even to religious beliefs. With so many facets to the problem (a so-called ‘dirty problem’) how will we find one solution, a magic silver bullet that will fix everything. The plain answer is that we won’t and, while we are convinced that we will (i.e. we will get an extension to Kyoto) we will stop looking at the solutions to the parts of the problem that we can fix. OK, they may not be the ultimate best answer, but making some progress until something better comes along is surely better than waiting for a solution that may never come.
For example, why was deforestation under discussion? Surely most people believe that it is wrong, so why wasn’t an agreement made by the interested parties, does someone in Iceland have to agree about rainforest destruction? I am sure they agree that it is bad, but put it in with something they don’t agree with and they will vote against.
I have come to the conclusion that I, personally, if I am honest, don’t care about climate change. Any changes to be seen in my lifetime are likely to be already set in motion, I don’t have children and therefore have no future generations to directly care about. I do, however, care about other things that are affected by or do affect climate change. I care about needless waste, lack of energy resources, reduced levels of oil available for the important things because we have wasted lots for electricity and transport, loss of biodiversity, lack of water, lack of available education and the fact that there are just too many people on this planet to consume as much resource as we do, but climate change – not really. Start to look at solving these problems individually and then we will solve the problem that we perceive to be climate change and, if not, we will still be making the world a better place.